Wow! What a wonderful start up in Parkland School Division. As I travelled to schools, spoke with high school students, elementary and middle school students…I felt the enthusiasm! In preparation for the start up I want to thank the great team I work with…our Senior Executive, Directors, Principals, Learning Services facilitators and Centre for Education staff for all of the behind the scenes work to ensure we had a smooth start up. Here at PSD we held a new teacher orientation, new administrators orientation, bus driver meetings, senior team retreat, informal meeting with the board; all culminating in an afternoon where all of the staff (all employee groups) met at Memorial Composite High School. We heard from our Board Chair Mr. Gilchrist, John Clarke our guest speaker and I as Superintendent. We shared PSD plans for the future. It was an absolute pleasure to feel such excitement and enthusiasm about learning in PSD on opening day.
Last year I spoke to staff about connecting with children and the profound impact each of us have on our youth. We have the ability to touch so many lives in a positive way. I shared a clip from Mr. Holland Opus at start up last year:
In Mr Holland Opus, the governor talked about not knowing the number of lives you will touch as a teacher and that a teacher’s symphony is the children they teach. I have always believed as a teacher, and now as a superintendent, that the connections/positive relationships we have with our students, parents and community will touch many lives and shape our future. Never lose sight of the importance of connecting in a positive manner with our youth. No matter the age, kids want to connect, learn together and do well.
Last night my wife Patty and I attended the Josh Groban concert at Rexall Place. This was the third time we had the pleasure of enjoying one of his concerts. His voice, showmanship is amazing. I watched, listened as the concert began and thought…where are the big screens, he is so far away from everyone! The last concert we attended had big screens and a massive light show. This concert began in a much more simplistic manner. Josh spoke of the intimacy he wanted to have at his concerts. He had begun this tour in smaller venues and liked the connection with the audience. He was now trying to connect with thousands of people in an intimate manner in a larger venue, Rexall place. Well he did! How? He travelled, had two stages, and made sure each member of the audience could see him, feel the excitement and passion as he shared his music. Just prior to the concert beginning, the audience was invited to text him questions. Not only was there a connection with the audience face to face, but he invited us to connect through texting. Part way through the performance he answered some of the questions. We could see who asked the question as he asked that person to stand. We were connected. One young lady asked if he ever asked someone from the audience to sing with him. Josh took the challenge and invited her up and they sang Happy Birthday to those in the audience with a birthday. What a powerful voice this young lady had and what an impact on the audience.
Josh reminded me, we must never lose sight of the impact positive face to face connections/interactions have on our children. Not only is it a priority to connect face to face with our children to build strong working relationships, but to facilitate their learning. When kids are safe and valued, they will embrace their learning. Josh also reinforced my learnings this past week of how using social media will enhance the learning experience of our kids and allow us as educators to further our connection with our youth, understanding how they are learning today.
I have spoke often about not throwing out the baby with the bath water as we look at transformation in education. I mean that…we have much to be proud of in PSD. We will continue to focus on literacy, numeracy and the skills required to prepare our children for their future. However, we know as adults how we learned will not necessarily prepare our youth for a new future. Therefore, we must continue to look at how we engage our youth in authentic learning.
Thanks PSD for the great start up! I know the time each of you spent in preparing for the first day of school!
Enjoy your September long weekend.